Wednesday, December 21, 2016

ML Update | No. 52 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.19 | No. 52 | 20-26 December 2016

 Modi Government Subverting Institutions, Undermining Constitutional Norms

In two and a half years the Modi Government has already packed Universities, educational and cultural institutions with hand-picked RSS men, overriding considerations of institutional autonomy and transparency. Now, constitutional norms are being eroded by the Government in appointments to the armed forces and judiciary.

No doubt, in any democracy, the armed forces must be subordinate to the elected Government. But it is also unhealthy for the Government to resort to political interference in the functioning of the armed forces. In superseding three senior officers to appoint Lt General Bipin Rawat as the new Army chief, the Government is undermining the internal autonomy of the armed forces.

It has been the norm for the senior-most officer to be appointed as Army chief, but this time the Government superseded the top three senior-most officers - Lt General Praveen Bakshi, Lt General PM Hariz and Lt General BS Negi – to appoint Lt General Bipin Rawat instead. The Government's claims of 'merit' and 'experience' being the consideration for the appointment notwithstanding, the appointment has been met with criticism by many retired and standing officers of the Army.

It is cause for concern when transparent criteria for appointments in sensitive posts like the Chief of Army are overridden and the processes guiding such decisions are opaque and arbitrary. It is widely held that the decision to appoint Lt General Rawat was driven largely by the the choices of the Prime Minister and his National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Lt General Bipin Rawat, like Ajit Doval, hails from the Pauri Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, as does the newly appointed RAW chief Anil Dhasmana. Doval has already been criticised for undermining the Army in his attempts to control the Pathankot operation. Doval's role at the time had resulted in the embarrassing situation of several avoidable casualties of NSG commandos after the Prime Minister as well as the Home Minister and Defence Minister prematurely announced the successful completion of the operation. Doval is also widely regarded to exercise disproportionate and extra-parliamentary influence on foreign policy decisions of the Modi Government – leading to several unfortunate consequences such as the eroding of Indo-Nepal friendship.    

Over-centralisation, concentration of decision-making in the hands of a select and opaque clique instead of elected and accountable people's representatives, and undermining of the internal autonomy of military and other institutions compromise the country's security as well as the health of a democracy. It is notable that the only previous Prime Minister to have overruled seniority in appointing an Army Chief was Indira Gandhi – remembered also for the infamous imposition of Emergency.

The Modi Government is also locked in a battle with the judiciary as it attempts to exert undue control over the process of judicial appointments. The Government set up the National Judicial Appointments Commission to replace the existing system of collegium system of appointing judges to the higher judiciary – but this Commission was set aside by a Supreme Court judgement. According to prevailing norms, the Government can return a proposed candidate's name to the collegium for reconsideration once, but the collegium's final decision will hold primacy over the Government's opinion. Moreover the Government cannot delay the process indefinitely since judicial appointments are required to be made on a time-bound schedule. The Modi Government has, according to Chief Justice of India, sat on the collegium's recommendations of appointments to the high court for nearly a year and returned 43 judges' names to the collegium for reconsideration.

It is of grave concern that in an interview to a national daily, the Minister of State for Law and Justice PP Choudhary claimed that the Government had a right to decline the appointment of a judge "if the government finds that an appointment goes against national security," and that the Supreme Court should not question such an opinion expressed by a government. Is the Minister suggesting that no less than 43 judges approved by the Supreme Court collegium pose a threat to national security? After environmental and student activists and ordinary citizens, is the Government now branding judges too as unpatriotic? Will judges who pass arbitrary diktats ordering the arrest of citizens who do not stand up for the national anthem in cinema halls be approved as 'patriotic' while those who defend the constitutional liberties of citizens be rejected as 'unpatriotic'? This Government has time and again cloaked its political prejudices in the guise of 'national security' to victimise dissenters. Now it wants to use the pretext of 'national security' to politically influence judicial appointments, undermine judicial autonomy and create a pliant judiciary.   

The Modi Government has also been dragging its feet on appointing the Lokpal, thereby crippling the anti-corruption body. Various institutions and processes including the RBI, Parliament and possibly even the Cabinet were trampled to take the demonetisation decision. 

The Government's encroaching on the autonomy and decision-making mechanisms of various robust institutions to concentrate powers in the hands of the Prime Minister and a handful of his favourites is yet another symptom of the undeclared Emergency that is being imposed by the Modi Government on India.  

18th Memorial Day of Comrade VM Observed As Sankalp Diwas

"Finally, for me the mother of all dreams is a motherland where political liberty of each of its citizens will be valued most"

- Vinod Mishra

The 18th death anniversary of Com. Vinod Mishra was observed as Sankalp Diwas by the party. In several states, district, block offices party members gathered to pay tribute to Com. Vinod Mishra. The Call drafted by the central committee of the party was read in party offices throughout the country and cadre conventions held in several places. 

A state level cadre convention of the party was organized on 18 December at the party's central office in Delhi. The party members paid tributes to Com. VM. During the convention, discussion was held on 'History of communist movement' and 'Effects of demonetization and the task of Delhi-NCR level movement on the issue'. The discussion note was presented by PB member Com. Kavita Krishnan. Bihar State Secretary comrade Kunal was the chief guest of the cadre convention.

In Jharkhand, a cadre convention was organized in Kanko Gram Panchayat (Koderma) which was chaired by Com. Mohan Datta. A sankalp sabha was also organized in Nirsa, Dhanbad where the 'call' sent by Central committee on this occasion was read out. Sankalp Diwas wals also observed in Giridih. A study circle was organized in Hazaribagh Central Jail where the Call drafted by CC was read out and comrades imprisoned for participating in people's struggles discussed the pledge and paid tribute to Com. VM.

A Dalits Self Dignity Convention was organized in Bangalore on Vinod Mishra Memorial Day. The convention gave the call of 'stop atrocities on Dalits', 'Stop the practice of Manual Scavenging and Untouchability'. Workers engaged in cleaning job and employed in government, public and private sectors in Bangalore participated. They demanded that free education, health and housing for Dalits, Sanitation workers and all contractual workers working in industries. They also demanded that the practice of carrying carcasses be ended.

In Lalkuan, Uttarakhand, the Sankalp Sabha began with a two-minute silence in memory of Com VM. The Sankalp Sabha was addressed by Party State Secretary Com. Rajendra Pratholi and All India Kisan Mahasabha leader Com Purushottam Sharma.

In Asandh, Haryana, Sankalp Diwas was observed and a march against demonetization was held where the effigy of Narendra Modi was burnt in protest.

The Sankalp Diwas was observed at many places in Andhra Pradesh. A number of village panchayats in East Godvari district, including Parimthadaka, Chendurthi, Pothuluru, Dharmavaram Chennayapalem programmes were held on VM's 18th memorial day. A meeting was also held at Kakinada party office. While in Krishana district, it was held at Visannapeta , Vijayawada town, Chatrai Mandal headquarter by the masses and party activists. A mass meeting was organised at the historic village of Boddapadu, which was a hotbed of Telangana peasant uprising, in Srikakulam district. The AIARLA members observed VM's memorial day in Sathyavaram village of Vishakapatnam district. The day was commemorated at Com. Vinod Mishra Nagar – the colony constructed after after a prolonged land struggle for homestead lands at Prathipadu and Eleswaram of East Godavari. Here unorganized sector workers including large number of women garlanded the photo of Com. VM and party flag was hoisted by women comradesAt Jagamapeta, a small town in the East Godavari the day was observed. On the eve of the Sankalp Diwas CPI(ML) organised of medical camp in Rajavomangi of East Godavari which was attended by many tribal families on 17 December.

The Sankalp Diwas was commemorated at all the districts of Bihar at various places. Leader of Beur Mushahari comrade Gorki Devi hoisted the party flag in Patna City office at Chitkohara before the floral tributes were paid to comrade VM and the Sankalp Diwas call was read out to the party activists present. The Digha Area Committee held a cadre convention which was addressed by senior leader KD Yadav.

Bhubaneswar city committee commemorated the VM Memorial day at Nagbhushan Bhawan where veteran leader Kshitish Biswal addressed the activists and supporters who paid tributes to VM and pledged to fulfil the tasks as per the 18 December Call of the Central Committee.

Similar programmes were held all over including places in Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Rajasthan, and other states. 

Statement by CPIML Liberation on International Human Rights Day

The CPI (ML) Liberation Central Committee during its ongoing meeting in Hyderabad observed International Human Rights Day today, December 10th. The CC resolved to resist the ongoing onslaught on human rights in India.

The CC condemned the recent instances of fake encounters in Bhopal, Malkangiri and Mallapuram. Last year we witnessed the custodial massacre of adivasis by AP Police at Seshachalam, and the fake encounter of five Muslim youth by Telangana police. Police continue to indulge in custodial killings because they are confident of enjoying impunity. Be it Gujarat or Madhya Pradesh, we see Chief Ministers openly justifying and even glorifying fake encounters. Even in LDF ruled Kerala, we see the Government failing to take action against police and upholding NHRC norms in the Mallapuram fake encounter case.

The wider situation of human rights in India is also very bleak. Perpetrators of Dalit massacres and communal pogroms go scot free and are acquitted even in Courts. Adivasis are being massacred in cold blood in Bastar, Odisha, Jharkhand and other states. Custodial torture by police is a common practice. Draconian laws like AFSPA, UAPA continue to be in force.

The situation in Kashmir is very bleak with the Indian State unleashing brutalities against agitations for self determination by the civilian population. More than 13000 people have been arbitrarily jailed, pellet guns have claimed the eyesight of scores of people and civilian protesters are being killed.

Women in India also are denied basic liberties, including sexual and reproductive autonomy. Homosexuality continues to be criminalized due to the Section 377 law.

On the occasion of Human Rights Day, the CPI (ML) Liberation demands punishment for perpetrators of fake encounters, police reforms to put at end to unconstitutional practices and custodial violence, justice in all pending cases of Dalit and adivasi massacres and communal violence, scrapping of draconian laws like AFSPA, enacting of a law against 'honour' crimes and scrapping of Section 377.

CPI (ML) Central Committee

Countrywide Anti-Communalism Marches on 6 December

Left parties and secular and democratic forces participated in anti-communal marches in various states across the country on 6 December, the 24th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992 and pledged to resist the Modi government's attempts to destroy the composite culture of our society and impose politico-economic dictatorship on the people. The following is a brief report received so far from different States:

BIHAR: In Patna 6 Left parties—CPI(M), CPI, CPI (ML), Forward Bloc, SUCI (C) and RSP—held a joint march attended by large numbers which culminated in a meeting at Kargil Chowk. The meeting was addressed by Com. Meena Tiwari of the CPI (ML), CPI (M) leader Com. Sarvoday Sharma, CPI leader Com. Satyanarayan Singh, and SUCI (C) leader Com. Arun Kumar.

A Sankalp (Resolve) march was also held in Samastipur in which more than 200 people from various blocks participated and which culminated in a meeting at Station Chowk. Protest marches and meetings were also held in Muzaffarpur and Darbhanga, Siwan, Gopalganj, Nalanda, Bhabhua, Jehanabad and other districts.

UTTAR PRADESH: Joint Left marches and meetings were held in various districts of Uttar Pradesh on 6 December, the anniversary of the Babri demolition and also Baba Ambedkar's 60th Parinirvan day, against fascist-communal forces and in solidarity to protect the Constitution and communal harmony. In Lucknow workers, farmers, students, youth, intellectuals, and a particularly large number of women participated in the March that culminated in a meeting at the Ambedkar statue at Hazratganj. Joint marches were also taken out in Varanasi, Ballia, Devariya, Mau, Chandoli, Mirzapur, Sonbhadra, Lakheempur Khiri, Sitapur, Pilibhit, and Jalaun. Joint Left dharnas were organized at Gazipur and Allahabad, and symposia were held at Kanpur and Gonda.

HARYANA: A dharna was organized at Karnal on 6 December led by All India Kisan Mahasabha leader Com. Prem Singh Gehlawat.

JHARKHAND: A joint Left meeting (Nukkad Sabha) was held at the Loghna Mor in the Jhariya coal district of Jharkhand resolving to resist the growing communal corporate onslaught of the BJP Governments in the state and the Centre. 

KARNATAKA: A public meeting and discussion was organized by the CPI (ML) on 6 December in Bengaluru on the topic, "The Babri Masjid Demolition: A Brutal Attack on Secularism and Democracy". The meeting was presided over by Com. Shankar and addressed by Party leaders as well as other Left party and progressive associations' leaders. A meeting was also held at Gangawati.

Report on Police Brutality on Dalits and Poor in Bhagalpur

A State level CPI (ML)-AIARLA team visited Bhagalpur on 11-12 December and enquired into the incident of horrific lathi-charge on the poor and brutal beating of women by the police. The team also met the injured dharna-protesters and went to Sultanganj to get full information of the incident. The team comprised State committee members, AIARLA State Secretary Com. Gopal Ravidas and AIARLA State Joint Secretary Com. Pankaj Singh.

The team met the injured women at Bhagalpur Nehru Hospital—Sukhiya Devi, Tabli Devi, Kaili Devi, Sushila Devi and Kabuli Devi (village Tilakpura, Ganhariya). The most seriously injured woman who has broken bones in the neck and ribs told the team that in 1972, 1976 and 1988 they had been allotted about 39 acres of 'ceiling fazil' land by the Bhoodan Yagya Committee, but people from the dominant sections are not allowing them to settle on that land.

"From 1988 we have been making our demands from the administration. But so far only 1304 people have been given possession. The descendants of Siyasharan Singh, and Sunil Singh (all associated with BJP or RJD) have captured the land. Dominant Yadav goons threaten us all the time". Some local leaders have started an NGO 'Jan Sansad' through which they are working among the poor on land and health issues. They have the support of Rinku Yadav of the Nyay Manch (formerly associated with the CPI (ML)). It was under their leadership that the poor went on a protest in front of the Bhagalpur DM on 5 December for kabja (possession) of the land. On 8 December ADM Harishankar Prasad called the leaders of the protest for talks with the DM.

The delegation was about to proceed for the talks when Sadar SDO Anuj Kumar suddenly ordered the lathi charge. The women were half-stripped and brutally beaten. Dozens of women were injured and later admitted to the Bhagalpur hospital. 6 people from the protest venue were sent to Bhagalpur jail.

The FIR even contains names of people who were in Delhi on that day. There is also a student who studies at AK Gopalan College. A case has also been registered against a youth Bunty who had gone to buy medicines at that time.

The team felt that the people of Bhagalpur are solidly against the lathi charge. Even the local MP and MLA feel that the administration is to blame. The enquiry team believes that the DM, SP, and Sadar SDO of Bhagalpur have deliberately lathi charged the peaceful protesters at the behest of the State government. The team has put forth the following demands:

1. The concerned officials should be arrested and tried under criminal charges.

2. All the arrested people should be released unconditionally and the false cases against them should be taken back.

3. The injured should be given proper and full treatment and each injured should receive Rs 20,000 as compensation.

4. Parcha holders should be given dakhal-kabja (possession) of their land without delay and all landless poor should be given land for housing.

Joint Left Protest March against Bhagalpur Police Brutality

On 9 December, Left parties took out a joint protest march against the Bhagalpur police brutality on landless poor and dalits, including women. The march started from Ghantaghar Chowk and culminated in a meeting at Station Chowk. As activists began gathering for the march, the police in large numbers surrounded the venue and started scolding passers-by, rickshaw drivers etc. and tried to create an atmosphere of fear. When the march started, police vehicles also fronted and tailed the march and they tried to keep the common people away from the protesters. However, the spirited slogans of the protesters silenced the police.

Speakers at the meeting said that innocent landless poor and dalits peacefully protesting for possession of their land were brutally beaten and lathi charged, and women were stripped half-naked and beaten, by the administrative officials at the behest of the State government and dominant sections of society. This incident has exposed the anti-poor and anti-dalit face of the Nitish government. This government, drunk on the arrogance of having brought in 'prohibition', has given the landless poor nothing but false and empty promises. The Left speakers pledged that they would fight every such attack by the administration and would continue the struggle for land and other basic issues of the poor.

The Left parties demanded the arrest of concerned officials, unconditional release of struggling people against whom false charges have been registered, compensation to the injured, possession of the land to the landless poor and immediate implementation of Bandopadhyay commission recommendations on land reforms.

Construction Workers' Protest in Patna

The Bihar State Construction Workers Union affiliated to AICCTU held a huge rally in front of the Chief Minister in Patna on 1 December 2016. The rally was to protest against the withdrawal of all schemes of the Construction Workers Welfare Board including registration of construction workers by the Nitish government. A demand charter was submitted to the Chief Minister asking: reinstatement of all Welfare Board schemes including registration; increase in social security amount in proportion with price rise; accident compensation of 4 lakhs; normal death compensation of 2 lakhs; marriage aid of Rs 50,000; old age pension of Rs 3,000; family pension of Rs 2,000; and strengthening of the Welfare Board against the conspiracy to loot 8 billion rupees.

The rally and meeting were attended by about 2,000 construction workers from various districts of Bihar and led by State President of the Union SK Sharma. During the protest, a 5 member delegation met the Chief Secretary of the Labour Resources Department for talks.

Addressing the meeting at the protest venue, the speakers condemned the Nitish and Modi governments and said that only those forces which attack and snatch away the rights of the workers and the poor are supporting demonetization. 50 to 60 crore workers are on the brink of starvation and more than 100 people have died due to demonetization but both Modi and Nitish are silent on this. Nitish Kumar is following the same path as Modi and is depriving workers of their rights. Payment under Welfare Board schemes are long pending whereas 8 billion rupees are still deposited in the Welfare Board account and officials and middlemen are conspiring to loot this amount. The speakers also pointed out that the Nitish government's allotment for construction workers' schemes is the lowest in the country.

 The rally also strongly opposed the Modi government's demonetization decision calling it a decision that has brought starvation and unemployment to construction workers, especially migrant workers, and submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister (through the Chief Minister) after passing a resolution against this pro-capitalist pro-corporate measure.

Protest for Landless in Madhubani

The CPI(ML) held a large protest on 5 December 2016 in front of the Madhubani District Collectorate. The protest was organized under a 15 point charter of demands that included- 5 decimal housing land for the landless (1 decimal in Bihar equals to 435 sq feet, or 40.46 sq meters -Ed); parchas (entitlement of land) for those already settled and possession for those already holding parchas; action without delay on the 15,000 applications in different blocks in this regard; re-starting of all closed mills in the district; ending trickery such as demonetization and "cashless" advice; confiscating all black money in and outside the country and depositing 15 lakhs in the accounts of the poor.

On this occasion a meeting was held chaired by CPI(ML) District Secretary Dhruv Narayan Karn in which it was announced that if action is not taken within 2 months on the issue of housing land, an indefinite "Ghera Dalo Dera Dalo" agitation would be started from February 2017. The speakers said that the deceit of the government is getting exposed in its Operation Dakhal Dihani and Operation Basera. The CPI(ML) has submitted applications of more than 15,000 landless poor in Rahika, Rajnagar, Pandol, Khajoli, Andharathadi, Jhanjharpur, Kaluahi, Jaynagar, Lakhnor and Visfi blocks, but so far, the administration has done nothing about it because feudal dominant people have captured government lands and neither the government nor the administration have the will to free the government lands from the possession of these forces. At the same time, huge cheating is going on in Food Security, MNREGA and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. The rich-dominant-middlemen-administration nexus is gobbling up most of the benefits which should go to the poor.

The protest was attended by people from many villages and the traffic from Post Office Road to Jaldhari Chowk was blocked for hours.

Protests Continue Against Demonetisation

A daily campaign against Demonetisation and it's impacts on urban poor is continuing in Delhi which will be culminated on 30 December in a Convention to be organised by AIPF. Comrades from AICCTU, AISA and AIPWA campaigned in Delhi's Kapashera Border area. Pamphlets were distributed and film screenings were held at different locations. Workers in the localities complained, "We do not have cash to pay our room rents because of which landlords are harassing us. Many people have simply locked their rooms and gone back to their villages." One of the workers present during film screening said, "I have never felt so helpless. This government works only for Ambani and Adani." Fifty days are almost over, but there's no respite for the people.

Delhi University Students exposing the facade of demonetization, are also campaigning under AISA banner against the black money which flows with the nexus of PG Mafias and dominant political students wings like that of ABVP.

In Udaipur, Rajasthan, a People's Tribunal was organised by Jantantrik Vichaar Manch on 18 December. This was attended by people from different walks of life. The Jury of the tribunal included academicians, ex-bureaucrats, journalists and activists. Prof. Hemendra Chandalia conducted the proceedings where he also apprised the audience of ineffectiveness of demonetisation exercises in curbing black money in the past in various countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Myanmar, Soviet Union and also in India. He said that such a Note Ban always resulted in economic recession in the past too. A small scale industry owner told that his production has fallen to a great extent and still he has no cash to pay to the workers. A local hospital representative informed that hardly ten percent patients are coming now and most of them have no cash to pay for. This indicates how people have been made deprived of essential basic health care. Many academicians explained how the people's hard earned money has been siphoned off to the big capitalists through the demonetisation exercise, and the crisis of capital has been carried over per force over the common toiling masses. The black money and corruption will flourish as usual while people have to suffer more. Construction  workers informed of the job loss and reeling unemployment, a peasant told that the vegetable he grew are now fetching much less prices, while a woman activist said how housewives' own savings over the years have disappeared over night which was meant for rainy days.

Against House Demolition in Varanasi

A massive protest was held on 17 December at Varanasi by the residents of an artisans' colony Varuna against the demolition orders served to them. The residents in hundreds gheraoed the DM office and demanded to withdraw demolition orders. They held a massive protest in their colony a day before on 16th and forced the officials and their Bulldozer which was brought to demolish their homes, to retreat. CPI(ML) activists organised this resistance.

AIPF Protests Dilution of CNT-SPT Acts

The All India People's Forum held a day long dharna in front of Jharkhand Assembly on 19 December demanding the withdrawal of anti-tribal amendments carried out by BJP Govt. in CNT and SPT Acts. Xavier Kujur, Nadeem Khan and Anil Anshuman along with a number of activists from many cultural and social organisations took part in this protest.

8th Patna Film Festival Against War-Mongering

"War is not the solution to issues; now is the decisive moment to oppose war-mongering in the country"

: Gauhar

Inaugurating the 8th Patna film festival "Cinema of Resistance" organized by Hirawal, Jan Sanskriti Manch, and The Group on 4 December, distinguished scientist, film-maker and poet Gauhar Raza reminded people of the historical links between war-mongering and the rise of fascism in Europe. He pointed out that war, whether it is on the border or at the banks, always inflicts suffering on the poor only.

Earlier, Bihar's well-known theatre director Kunal said that the culture of questioning, dissent, and criticism is essential to defend humanity. "Cinema of Resistance" is a step in this direction. Present on the dais at the inauguration were anti-nuclear activist Kumar Sundaram, senior journalist Manikant Thakur, Prof Santosh Kumar, Prof Bharti S Kumar, poet Pratibha Verma and 'Filhal' Editor Priti Sinha. JSM Bihar Secretary Com. Sudhir Suman began the proceedings of the festival with tributes to Fidel Castro and Polish film-maker Andrzej Witold Wajda and condolences to those who lost their lives due to demonetization and the recent rail accident and the soldiers killed in the Nagrota attack.

   The films screened at the festival gave the message of opposition to war and struggle for peace: Gauhar Raza's documentary 'Inquilab'; Anand Patwardhan's 'Jung Aur Aman'; 'Fidel—the Untold Story' based on Castro's life; 'Come and See' portraying the times of Nazi Germany's capture of Belaruse and the use of Mozart's music for war-mongering; Vijay Raj's 'Kya Dilli, Kya Lahore'; Ashwini Kumar's 'Little Terrorist'; Bahman Ghobdi's Persian language film 'Turtles can Lie'; Sabira Samar's 'Khamosh Pani'; Japanese animation film 'Grave of the Fireflies'; French director Alain Resnais' documentary 'Night and Fog';  and Nagraj Manjule's Marathi feature film 'Sairat'.

    The festival opposed war-mongering through other media also, such as art and painting, music, and dance.

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